Saturday, June 26, 2010

Party Planning: Save-the-dates

Here is where I confess to being a complete geek: I actually sent out "save the dates" for my upcoming birthday party. I've also heard them called "pre-invitations." I send them out for two main reasons: 1) I have more than one idea that I want to use, 2) I really do want people to save the date!

Not a of information is required for this kind of thing, so I finally had a use for the little skeleton hands I picked up some time ago. (I've seen them in dollar stores since, although I bought them elsewhere.) I'm not trying to be cheap - I've actually been collecting things with this kind of thing in mind and am thrilled that I finally get to use some of them.

I used a mini template of my own design (I like the kind that open on the short end) to make the small business card-size envelopes out of my "signature" (until it runs out) chartreuse paper. I used some gray ink to make the paper look a little distressed.

I just printed out my info. on ivory cardstock, using a business card template and trimmed the cards to fit the envelopes and rounded the corners using a little tool available in the scrapbooking section of craft stores.

Finally, I used some 2-sided mounting foam to attach the envelope to the hands. I slipped each little missive into a treat envelope and sealed it with a round label. Each of those went into a padded envelope with custom address labels (more chartreuse paper).

For several reasons, we have to keep the guest list for parties pretty small. One tiny benefit is that it's not cost-prohibitive to spend a little extra on postage, etc. since we aren't sending out that many.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Spooky Giftmas Tree

This picture was taken Thanksgiving 2009 and there are no special effects applied to it. What you see here is what a Giftmas tree looks like when you have a fog machine running. The joy of having an industrial fog machine is that you can have a room, basement or house full of fog whenever you want. Instant horror setting! And yes, we do crank it up whenever the mood strikes.

While working on the movie, I found myself shut up in a large barn with another dozen people and a ton of fog (dense, floor-to-ceiling). It can actually be somewhat claustrophobic if you have an issue with that kind of thing. I tried to be a trooper, though, and quietly had my panic attack in the corner, next to the door, before going back to shoot my scene. Last weekend, we shot a scene in our basement, and the fog helped diffuse the light. What an amazing shot! I can't wait to share pictures of that!!

That's my nephew, J., in the picture. J loves Halloween, but he loves Christmas more, and begged me to put up a tree. (We usually don't.) He loves all holidays, and on this day he got four of them: Thanksgiving, Giftmas, Halloween and Independence Day (we also attempted to use sparklers on the front porch).

Monday, June 21, 2010

Make: Brownie Pops

As promised, here's an update about the brownie pops I made yesterday. Obviously, these are not Halloween-y, but it would be very easy to make the simple adorned version Halloween themed, with candy melts & sprinkles in the right colors.

  • 8-cavity Brownie Pop mold. I used 50%-off coupons at Michaels to get two of them for the price of one (2 visits). The family-size mix makes almost 2 dozen pops, so two molds makes it go a little faster.
  • Brownie batter (Using a mix, I followed the directions for "cake-like" brownies because I read somewhere that they might be better for the pops. I'm not convinced (more on that later).)
  • Non-stick spray. Essential.
  • Lollipop sticks. Buy more than you think you need. Including goofs, I used more than 50 for 2 mixes.
  • Candy melts. If you want to have the sticks coming out the small end, like most of the online images show, get "chocolate" to help hold the sticks in place. I didn't have great luck with that, but all I had was white and held back. Ignore the frosting. I had this idea that warmed frosting (thins it out) would work. Not so much. It does okay for some other treats, and in other seasons, but you really want the candy melts.
  • Sprinkles. Your choice,
  • A method to melt the candy and keep it liquid for dipping. My "double boiler" is a small pan, with some water in the bottom (keep an eye on that), a stainless steel bowl nestled well inside (above the water), and a small paper bowl inside that (easier clean-up).
  • Treat bags and something to tie.
  • Something to stick the pops in while the candy dries. I used a slab of foam, covered with foil.
The jury is still out for me. The cutest pops (seen online) require that you bake the brownies and let them cool, then insert the stick with some candy melted on the end to keep it in place. I didn't have great luck with that, and only had the white candy, so it looked odd. Maybe I didn't use enough because of that? For me, the best way was to follow the package direction: bake for about 15 minutes, insert the sticks and bake for another 10 minutes or so. (I also realized I might never have enough patience to make the little ghosts and people were just going to eat them anyway!)

Ignore that little rim inside the mold cavity, if you think it's a fill line. It's really, really not. You want to stop adding batter when there's about as much space below the line as there is above it. Unless the fact that I added an extra egg for "cake-like brownies" made it puff up that much. It seemed impossible to keep the brownies from puffing up a lot near the end and shifting in the pan (way-crooked sticks!). Next time, I'll skip the extra egg and see if that helps. Note: if you want to use a stick in the small end, you CANNOT trim the wider end so it looks more even. You need that crust to stop the stick from poking through.

Let the pops cool completely before you start to decorate, especially if you're going to use a foam block to have the pops stand up while they set. (Lesson learned: let the pops cool while lying flat. Gravity will pull the brownie down the stick if it's still warm and extra moist inside.)

Someday, I'm going to get one of those special candy melt pots and will be able to dip the entire pop. But my current method, mentioned above, really only let me get a bit of the pop coated, which still looks pretty fun. I left a few undecorated, and about as many with just the candy and no sprinkles, and dipped the rest in colorful or chocolate sprinkles.

Once the candy is set (may require some refrigeration), you can wrap each with a treat bag (lollipop size) and tie it shut. The event these are for isn't for a couple of days, but I took the rejects to work today (the ones with the frosting) and they were a pretty big hit.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I'm baaack

It's been a long time since I've blogged - anywhere - and I'm really sorry. Life has been busy! I think I shared earlier that I'm involved in a movie project. I also started a new job late in 2009 and that has sucked up so much of my time (extended each work day by an hour...amazing how that can drain you). I'm going to try to post here a little more regularly now (crossing fingers).
I'm working on a Halloween-themed birthday party for myself. It's my 45th and I'm really just wanting a party. And why not have my favorite theme? I'm only sorry that I had to keep the guest list small.

News for today: We picked up a couple of the Wilton Brownie Pop molds today and I'm going to give them a go tomorrow for an event we're attending next week. They won't be Halloween-themed, but will be a good trial run for later. I found a handful of fun, seasonal decorating ideas:
I definitely want to make the ghost pop pictured here (pic snagged from the Wilton site), but would probably try to use the food-safe markers rather than piping on black icing.

Tomorrow, they'll just be brownies, some plain, some dipped in a bit of melted icing and sprinkles, something like the ones on this page. I promise to come back with pics. (I have so many ideas swimming that I'm afraid I'll get overwhelmed instead of sharing them!)
Related Posts with Thumbnails